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My Light in the Darkness

Broken Promises

And now we're left with broken promises
My heart can't take no more
And now we're left with broken promises
My mind has had enough
"Broken Promises" Element Eighty

The familiar, putrid smell of the undead crawled up my nose causing what little food I had in my stomach rise up into the back of my throat. I swallowed hard through the dryness of my mouth and throat, biting my tongue to force the bile back down, the sickening sour taste still lingering. With a quick breath through my mouth, I forced myself forward into a crouching position beside a dumpster to scope out the scene that lay ahead of me. Another herd of about 30 rotters shuffled dumbly along the street, blocking the path to my final destination. It had taken weeks to make it this far and I had lost everything along the way, I was determined it wasn't about to end here.
Before everything went radio silent, the news reports had been saying there was a refuge here in Atlanta. They were dead wrong. The city had fallen and there was no help here now, only death. We could only help ourselves now.
A bang coming from behind me had me startled. A few rats scurried away from under a grimey trash can. Two rotters began to make their way down the alley I was hiding in, splitting off from the main herd, clearly hearing the small ruckus. I had to think fast before I was spotted and they were able to bring anymore attention my way. I leaned against the wall the dumpster sat up against, hiding myself from their view. I closed my eyes, focusing my ears on the sounds of their shuffling feet against the littered concrete. I took my large hunting knife and sliced the Achilles heel of the first one, just as began to pass by. It lost all balance and toppled to the ground with a thud. Without hesitation I plunged my knife into the back of its head. The second was right above me now, growling and reaching his decayed hands for me. I kicked its knee as hard as possible until it fell as well. It stumbled back to the ground once again submerged the blade into its skull.
Adrenaline pumped through my veins as I quickly shuffled back up against the wall so I wasn't spotted by a monster who may had been attracted. Quietly, I eased myself forward to peak over the corner. The small herd was seemingly unphased by what had transpired.
My rage towards the creatures overwhelmed me sometimes but that's probably why I'm still here. Even if I'm all alone now. I needed to get where I was going, having anger as your only companion is enough to drive anyone to a breaking point.
Moans from the opposite end of the alley drew my attention from the street. I turned and saw another dozen dead heading my way, trapping me in the alley between the two growing hordes.
Fuck, I thought to myself, panic seeping its way in.
As quietly as possible, I opened the lid to the dumpster and hopped in. The moans grew louder and it was hard to tell if all that thumping was coming from them, or my heart beating so fast in my own ears. I could feel an anxiety attack coming on, my breath more and more shallow. It was getting easier to calm myself down now then it was in the beginning.
Anxiety gets you killed. Be brave. Just breath, I said to myself, as I let one tear escape. With a deep breath, I shook the last of the tremors I was having. Fear gets you killed.
Having anxiety about something so real and so terrifying is what actually seemed to pull me from the grasp of a full on panic attack. Not like before the turn, when I'd have anxiety over something I had said or done even months prior, or what that random stranger in that restaurant thought of me. I knew those fears were in my head. The monsters outside, the dead, that was fear incarnate.
Sitting here in the cold, dark, fucking nasty box as I was surrounded by rotters, I had nothing to do but wait, and think...
I will keep my promise, I have to. I have to get to them, I thought to myself.
Long moments had past as I remembered all the pain and suffering I had endured to get here and how close I was to finish my objective. The moans were loud and unchanging, the dumpster was still surrounded, leaving me trapped here while the end of line was mere feet away.
Gunshots started going off in the distance, drawing the dead towards it. I sighed in utter relief for the small miracle. Once the moans had quieted completely I slightly open the lid, enough to peak through to see I was once again alone. Lifting the lid up all the way, resting it back against the wall, I climb out, planting my feet firmly but quietly on the ground. Now that I was out in the open, I could make out shouting and more gunfire, I couldn't understand what was being said, but it sounded like a group of people fighting amongst eachother, and they were very close. I knew I had to leave now, as people in this world could be more terrifying than the dead.
With a silent thank you for their unintentional assistance, I jogged out of the alley, wasting no time to take advantage of the temporary distraction the gun shots had created. The street opened up as the herd hungrily shambled away towards the noise and away from me.
With my feet light, I raced across the street for the four story walk up apartment building. Please be alive, I silently prayed.
It was dark as hell inside, so I took out my flashlight as a crept through the broken glass door, trying to keep my steps as quiet as possible on top of the shards. With a pounding heart, I started for the stairs, ready and alert for whatever may be waiting for me in the darkness.
Anxiety will kill you. Just breathe.
With my knife gripped tight in my right hand, and my flashlight in the other, I started my ascent.
Dead bodies littered the stairs. With a gasp, I choked back a cry and put my hand up to my mouth trying not to vomit. Two small children lay side by side, barely anything of them left. With hesitation I took my flashlight and crouched. I needed to know if it was them. I shown my light on their bloodied faces slowly, mentally preparing myself.
It's not them I thought, with a shamefully selfish sigh of relief.
Regaining my composure, I continued up the remaining flight of stairs to the apartment door I've been longing but dreading to see. I took out the keys and slowly opened the door, wincing when the hinges creaked loudly.
Nothing could have ever prepared me for the scene that had lay out in front of me. It was as if I had stepped into a nightmare. Something so unimaginable I never would have been able to anticipate.
There was not one piece of furniture where it should be. The walls and floors were painted with bright blood. The blood of the only family I thought I had left in this world. It was fresh as well, so what ever had happened occurred so recently.
I felt everything crash down around me. The painful stab of despair and greif was debilitating. Everyone in this world I had loved, was officially gone. Dead. The only thing that had kept me going. The one and only hope I had clung to for strength these past few weeks was ripped viciously from me. This was my worst nightmare come true. There was nothing left for me.
And worst of all, I had failed him. I had failed my big brother. Again.
"We're trapped, Luke! There's no way. I can't do this, just go without me, I'll slow you down anyway!" I exclaimed.
Fear had taken hold of me. I was frozen, tight in the grip of a panic attack. I looked behind us and then down, uncertain of which would be worse. My eyes searched for a third option out of this, but there was none.
My older brother Luke took my face in his sure hands and looked down at me, sadness but determination were in his eyes. "I'm not losing you too. I need you. I need you to be brave. We can do this," he shouted at me over the moans of the dead that quickly approached us.
I gulped, nodding my head, squeezing his hand in mine. I looked back again the herd gaining on us. I looked my brother in the eyes and then down, turning to the side of the bridge that had been blown out or blocked off by a wreck. The water sat 30 feet below.
"Lets do this then," Iagreed finally.
Hand in hand we plunged off the bridge into the water, praying the fall wouldn't kill us. With the water below so murky, it was hard to tell how deep it actually was. But it was either plummet to our deaths or be eaten alive by these monsters.
I think I blacked out because the next thing I remember I was breaking the surface of the water. Luke was already there treading water looking for me. After a sigh of relief we just looked at each other and laughed, elated we had survived. The moans above caught our attention once again. We both looked up as the first of many rotters began their leap from above.
"SWIM! Swim fast!" Luke yelled pushing me ahead.
I pushed my self forward trying to get to the shore as quickly as possible. It was draining, my backpack full of gear weighing me down. I heard a loud crack behind me as a walker fell right where we were moments ago. One by one, in very fast succession they just kept falling. Luke yelled out behind me as one fell right beside him. I turned back to check on him, with a grimace on his face he urged me to keep going. I made it to the shore first, completely exhausted. I lay sprawled on my back in the sand waiting for Luke to catch up.
Struggling in the water a couple feet from shore is what got me up. I raced to my brother fighting with the rotter in the water just a few feet from the shore. I took out my knife from its sheath and stabbed it through the head and pulling it off Luke.
I was too late.
The open bite wound on my brothers shoulder had me on my knees in horror.
"Luke...no!" I sobbed.
I grabbed his arm and pulled him to land. Blood gushed out all around him dampening the ground beneath him. I took my flannel shirt off and pressed it hard over the wound to stop the bleeding, even knowing how pointless it was.
"You know it's worthless, Hannah. This is it for me baby sis," he coughed, blood coming out of his mouth. "I need you to get there please. To Sarah and...and the girls. Get yourselves all to safety. Please."
"Luke, I can't do it with out you," I sobbed. "Please don't leave me. After everything...you can't leave me."
"I don't want to sis. But you have to go on. They need you now Hannah. Plea...please tell them I love them. Prom...promise me you'll find them... I love you Han....I...." He started coughing more and more blood, his wound still gushing, blood now reaching my knees where I knelt beside him. "Don..don't let...me turn," he said, tears escaping his deep brown eyes. With that he took his final breath.
I couldn't stop the tears from falling then. I'm not sure how long I sat over his body crying as I cradled his head in my lap. My body racked violently from the silent sobs of disbelief and mourning.
Moans and shuffles from the woods behind me is what forced me out of my state. I took my hunting knife out and charged towards the small group of biters without any regard.
I took them out in smooth agile movements I didn't even know I had in me. Enraged, I sliced and cut and slashed my way through them until every thing was once again quiet. I leant over, hands on my knees, dripping in disgusting black blood, attempting to catch my breath. My chest felt so tight, it was hard to find away to let the air in.
Movement in my peripheral vision drew my attention back to my brothers now reanimated corpse.
That's twice now I failed him.
I approached slowly forcing my shaking knees closer to him, my grip tightening on the blades handle. His movements were slow and confused, like he was awakening from a dream. Soft, raspy moans escaped his lips. I knelt my leg down on his chest, contemplating if I should just join him in this undead nightmare. I took away pressure from his chest and his arms reached for me, still just out of his grasp. Images of my sister in law Sarah and my neices flashed through my head, and I put all my weight back down on him.
"I'm so sorry, Luke," I cried, looking into the milky white eyes that were no longer my big brothers.
I pressed my knife into his head behind his ear, quieting his hushed moans that seemed to deafen my ears anyways.
I had never known emotional pain like this before. Not even when we lost our parents and brother and sister is this apocalyptic chaos. It was the first time I was forced to kill a member of my family. And he was all I had left in this world. My rock and the one person who had kept me going. I was lost without him, but I had to keep my promise and find his family.
With nothing to dig a grave for him with, I was forced to drag his body up to the grass and leave him. I would not fail him a third time. I took what supplies from his pack that I could force into mine and started my long and lonely trek to Atlanta to find my nieces and my sister in law. It was my fault he had not been with them when this all happened, so I owed him now more than ever.

I had felt loss before the end of the world, I've suffered losing family and friends before. But the rest of your family is what gets you through the grief. You pull each other out of the darkness. But I had no family left now, and the darkness was consuming me.
My sister in law Sarah was pulled apart, all her insides on the outside, her ribs were fully exposed with her intestines spilling from her abdomen, pieces of flesh ripped away all over her body.
Beside her, sat her two once beautiful and angelic daughters who had fists full of organs as they greedily consumed their own mother's flesh. Their once porcelain features were now dull and lifeless and grey. Their light hair was stained with blood, their little fingers torn and cut up.
They didn't even notice me as they were so consumed with their meals. My body swayed and the world felt like it had fell from its axis. I forced myself toward them, stumbling under the surrealism of the scene. The clumsiness of my movements drew their attention and they stood, growling as they slowly shambled towards me.
Unable to bring myself to get close enough to kill them, I drew my gun and took aim.
The two shots created such a loud ringing in my ears only adding to my disorientation. I fell to my knees, in complete horror and shock. My stomach churned and I couldn't hold back the puke. I puked until there was nothing left and I sat on the floor surrounded by all this gore, dry heaving.
Then reality settled in as I realised I had nothing. I was alone in this world of the dead.
I was in such a catatonic state that I barely remember more dead walking into the apartment, drawn by the gunfire and my cries. I barely remember fighting my way out of the building and down an alley way to find some type of temporary sanctuary. I just wanted to be alone in my misery and grieve. Figure out my next step. Clearly nothing was in Atlanta. It belongs to the dead now.
I found my self in some kind of fenced industrial yard full of trucks, hardly aware of my surroundings or how I even ended up here. I didn't care anymore though, I was only existing on autopilot now. It felt as if I was plummeting into a type of darkness that I never knew even existed. I knew complete depression and misery before, but this was a whole other level that shouldn't have even existed. Something even the strongest of people couldn't come back from. I was completely unable to get my thoughts straight. The pain and greif I felt was completely debilitating. I didn't want to live. I couldn't.
I heard shouting echoing through my ears, along with the choir of moans of the dead getting closer and closer. I turned my head to look, hard to see clearly through the tears and shock I was in. Two men threw themselves over a metal chain fence. People. I almost found myself begging for them to end it. To end all this pain I was in. But I couldn't get the words out. I felt like I was choking. The darkness taking over. It took me a moment to realize that the inconsolable shrieking I was hearing was actually coming from me.
The last thing I remember was a young Asian man shaking me, horror plastered on his handsome features.
"We can't just leave her!" he screamed to a police officer beside him.
I followed the polices gaze back to the fence, almost being knocked over now by the dead.
"Please...." I whispered, my mouth dry and pained. I wanted to tell him to just end my misery, but I couldn't form the words.
The police officer lifted me up off the ground and everything went black.



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